Every club is under varying degrees of pressure going into the 2019 season, but certain individuals will feel the heat more than others.
This is not to say jobs are necessarily on the line, but these people in particular will have to perform in 2019.
Whether it’s a coach under pressure, a high-profile recruit, or a side’s most important player, who is under the microscope next year?
Adelaide: Don Pyke
Going from runners up to missing the eight altogether in the span of one year is enough to put any coach under pressure, but when you add into the mix the off-field drama the Crows went through in 2018, Adelaide’s Don Pyke could feel the pressure next season.
Former St Kilda midfielder Nick Dal Santo believes above all else, Pyke and the club need to spend the summer making sure they have the full trust of the playing group. The fact that this idea needs to be brought up at all sums up the tumultuous 2018.
“They’ve got 20 weeks until their first game to build some trust among their players and their coaches,” Dal Santo told SEN Afternoons.
“You’ve got such a good opportunity over the summer. They lose the Grand Final in 2017, arguably were the best team all year, then you watch their footy in 2018 … it comes down to trust.
Pyke and football manager Brett Burton will be watched closely from the outside in 2019.
Brisbane: Lachie Neale
With Dayne Beams defecting for Collingwood, Lachie Neale will come in and immediately have to fill the void as the club’s best midfielder.
The Lions are a club seemingly trending upwards, but aren’t quite in a situation yet where anyone will come under pressure for poor results – assuming nothing catastrophic happens in 2019.
However, Neale will be expected to come in and lead the club’s midfield unit alongside Dayne Zorko, especially given the hefty price the Lions paid to get him to the club.
The two-time Fremantle best and fairest winner shouldn’t have too much trouble taking the mantle at Brisbane.
Carlton: Brendon Bolton
While no one is expecting Carlton to make finals in 2019, a lack of tangible improvement would put coach Brendon Bolton in the hot seat from fans and experts alike.
The Blues only won the two games in 2018 and were blown out of the water on a number of occasions.
As long as Carlton shows they’re improving and looming as a club that will be in finals contention down the road, Bolton should be fine.
If bad losses pile up again next year however, questions will rightly be asked if Bolton is the one to lead this club forward.
This is compounded by the club’s decision to trade its 2019 first round pick to Adelaide.
Collingwood: Darcy Moore
After a year in the spotlight, Moore re-signed with Collingwood and will likely go into 2019 as their number one key defender.
Moore only managed seven games in 2018, dealing with constant hamstring issues, but given the Pies have now paid him to hold their backline together, it’s time he does so.
Lynden Dunn and Matt Scharenberg are recovering from ACL injuries which leaves Moore to take the opposition’s best forward.
With 2018 lifting the pressure off a lot of the key members of the Collingwood Football Club, 2019 will see that attention turn to the 22-year-old.
Essendon: Joe Daniher
Daniher’s 2018 was essentially a write-off thanks to osteitis pubis, which derailed his season soon after it started.
With Essendon continuing to recruit with the aim of winning finals, a lot rests on spearhead Joe Daniher to return to his 2016 form.
Expect the 24-year-old to bounce back, but a poor or injury-interrupted season could be the difference between Essendon’s 2019 being a success or failure.
Fremantle: Ross Lyon
After finishing 14th on the ladder and experiencing a rough year away from the field, Ross Lyon will be watched closely in 2019.
The Dockers haven’t made finals since 2015 and Lyon’s defensive game style does leave fans frustrated.
With Jesse Hogan and Rory Lobb coming into the club and a fit Nathan Fyfe, expectations will be higher this season for Fremantle and another year near the bottom of the ladder could lead to calls for change.
Geelong through to North Melbourne coming tomorrow